Format: PC, PS4 (version tested), XboxOne
Developer: Cavalier, Tequila Works
Publisher: Tequila Works
Release Date: 12th April 2017
The extravagant party hosted by the enigmatic Marquis has not turned out to be the luxurious event the guests had bargained for. The anonymous staff of the mansion are systematically killing the masked guests, and if that wasn’t bad enough, every time the clock hits midnight the time goes back and the entire process is repeated in its continuous, deadly cycle. So, it’s up to the protagonist Lafcadio Boone, who is a priest to the mansion’s chapel, to save the victims from their perpetual nightmare. Boone’s ability to remember the events after the time inevitably ticks back is what allows him to do this, a gift given to him by a mysterious woman drenched in blood. Boone must scalp out each individual culprit and impede them on their murderous errands before they inevitably kill their victims.Most of Boone’s cases requires him to see the victim’s death before he can attempt to prevent the incident, and discovering the time and location becomes half of the challenge to solving the puzzles. Sneaking around, spying through keyholes and eavesdropping for valuable information are your main strategies to gathering intel to build a picture for yourself to each conclusion. For example, in the tutorial you must stop Reginald Sixpence from getting shot. Upon inspection through the adjacent room, as he’s rummaging through a safe, an item falls to his feet. Waiting till Sixpence leaves the room, Boone enters to pick up the item which reveals to be a blank shot, which is to be inserted into the rifle in place of the real bullet. Naturally the puzzles get more taxing and gratifying as the game progresses, and the murders can be just as creative as the solutions themselves. The routes of the murderous staff never change, and neither does the routes in which the victims take to meet their inevitable demise. With the movements of the characters you spy on being conveniently marked onto the map, it makes it an accessible reference tool to look back for quick reference and to see if there are any gaps in your observations in which vital information can be found.
The map shows just how incredible The Sexy Brutale’s design is, particularly towards the latter stages of the game when there’s more activity recorded and you can see just how seamlessly it all interlocks together. Time will still pass after a murder has occurred, and the chances are you won’t see a murder on a first attempt, meaning their final resting place will be your first clue. When the time hits midnight, the day reverts to the start, removing the items from your inventory and returning you to the last grandfather clock you visited, which also act as the game’s save points. You can Press L2 which lets you manually reset the day, and you also have limited freedom to move time forward to either 4pm or 8pm by using the grandfather clocks, which is particularly helpful in alleviating waiting for certain activities in a game that has a heavily reliant concept on time.Unless you’re hiding in a wardrobe, you can’t be present in the same room as the quests or staff. If you do find yourself occupying the same chamber as someone else, time stops and their masks hovers over them before drifting to your location, sapping at your energy until you vacate to another room or perish in the attempt. It takes a considerable amount of time for your energy to diminish completely, all of which means you can dart between rooms with relative safety, but your ability to interact with objects other than doors is momentarily hindered.
The game has a variety of different cases throughout the relatively short campaign, with each one being as memorable and inventive as each other, which are all equally as satisfying to surpass. Every death in the game’s cartoonish graphics presents a gory, often twisted scenario that induces a perfect amount of humour to the mix, and unravelling the scenarios are incredibly thrilling. The order in which the victims are rescued is mandatory, which means you’ll be focusing on one murder at a time rather than have a sandbox-like freedom around the building, giving The Sexy Brutale a very welcome structure. After you’ve successfully saved someone, you’re briefly able to talk to them. In doing so, they’ll give you additional powers that’s imbued into the masks that they’re wearing which allows you to access new areas of the mansion and in turn, attempt to save the other guests. It’s only a momentary breather for them however, as when the clock inevitably ticks back 12pm, the whole process is repeated again for them.
There’s no voice acting in The Sexy Brutale, with all the game’s dialogue being presented onto the screen via text boxes, and with any game that doesn’t feature any vocals, there needs to be a soundtrack to compensate for it. The Sexy Brutale contains just that. Every one of the mansion’s areas has its own memorable track, particularly the titular casino. Audio is also a vital clue to what’s in the preceding portions of the game, as you hear gunshots, a ringing bell and the sound of glass smashing followed immediately by a body hitting the floor that periodically transpire all creates an image of what’s about to happen, and gives the game the interlocking design that the game has wonderfully created.The Sexy Brutale’s detailed visuals and well animated and stumpy characters can pose some technical issues. Entering rooms on occasion will take some time to load, leaving you with a blank screen with just a few ornaments visible before everything else finally kicks in, and there’s some regular input delay on the interactions which sometimes fails to recognise the input altogether. It’s not overly problematic, and when Boone is required to traverse through multiple rooms with haste, it didn’t ever get worse. It’s easy to forgive the minor issue when you see just how well the levels are designed, and the effortless way in which all the mansion’s rooms seamlessly ties together.
The Sexy Brutale’s world is a fascinating place to lose yourself in. Each victim you encounter imposes a grand sense of accomplishment that encourages you to continue through the mysterious and delightful adventure. Not so unlike the mysterious mansion, this game will draw you in and keep you there.
Final Verdict – 8.7